On sex, balls and factories: a thread.
Let’s imagine a ball-making factory, the squishy, brightly-coloured kind of ball you kick around on the beach with a child (preferably one you own, not one stolen).
In that factory are two production lines. The first line paints balls red and the second line paints balls blue. Both machines are fed by boring beige balls.
At the end of the red line is a big bin labelled ‘red balls’ that is full of red balls.

At the end of the blue line is a big bin labelled ‘blue balls’ that is full of blue balls.
Whilst packing red balls from the red bin for shipment to the local beach emporium of tat, it is discovered that one of the red balls is not quite like the others.
Specifically, it is red ball with spatters of blue paint on it.

It is both interesting and rare.
The packer holds it back for this year’s Secret Santa, the recipient places it on display in the coffee room, and others marvel at how this wondrous object came to be.
An investigation into RedBallGate reveals that an apprentice working the blue line one recent fateful day became curious about what would happen if he stuck his thumb over the blue paint jet.
Having Instagrammed the ensuing arc of blue across the factory floor that delivered a Pollock-style creation up the side of the red machine, he hastily clocks off and buttons his mouth.
And so a red ball with blue spatters was created, an unfortunate case of ‘wrong place’ (just emerging from the red machine) and ‘wrong time’ (as blue paint was sprayed across the machinery).
You will read me and others define sex in reference to evolved system function.

The system function is binary, across almost all complex life from long before humans came up with Twitter.
This is often mistakenly interpreted as saying that sexed bodies are binary, that is, they come in two types and only two types.

Venus and Mars, if you wish.
Those who say sex is not binary are talking balls. They consider as evidence that sex is not binary the existence of a red ball with blue spatters. After all, it is neither red nor blue, it is a third form, a third colour.

Sex is not binary!
The external sign which advertises ‘Ball Factory (red or blue our speciality!)’ is thus deemed inaccurate.
Furthermore, the factory should no longer discriminate its red from its blue balls. How can it, when this red ball has blue spatters?

Look!, they point.
They say this despite a full understanding that, but for the havoc wreaked by a mischievous worker, the ball would have been a pure red colour.
Those who say sex is binary are referring to the production lines. The rare accident, jaunty jape, or mishap that occasionally produces a ball of mixed colour does not blur the production lines between red and blue.
They will ask: which production line was the ball part of, what happened to create this outcome, and can we sack that idiot who stuck his thumb in the paint?
But these questions do not undermine the material fact of two production lines. The unexpected outcome has a cause, and it will be found in reference to the two production lines.
Those who categorise the factory capacity (‘it makes three colours!’) with their heads stuck solely in the bins need to look up and observe the factory floor.
They will see two production lines for two different types of ball, one red and one blue, that will, if running as intended, produce red and blue balls.
The ball output and the production lines are two different phenomena.

Many who argue that sex cannot be binary ‘because sometimes red balls have blue spatters’ cannot - or will not - understand this nuance.
NB: Respect the red ball with blue spatters. It is exceptional.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Emma Hilton

Emma Hilton Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @FondOfBeetles

26 Oct
Jones et al., 2017 is repeatedly cited as evidence that transwomen do not have an advantage in female sports.

Here is my take.
They performed a literature search of transwomen in sport and concluded that:

“Currently, there is no direct or consistent research suggesting transgender female individuals (or male individuals) have an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition.”
This conclusion is not supported by the data they analyse.

First, the review intended to examine sports policies and participation, and consists largely of qualitative/survey data examining the experiences of trans people in sport.

This is valuable insight.
Read 12 tweets
24 Oct
The proposal that sports be divided into ‘performance pools’ undermines the very nature of competitive sport.
Let’s say I am matched in an boxing competition with a male of the same height, strength and speed. Our ‘output’ is considered equivalent, and thus the competition is deemed fair.

It is not fair.
Male physical output is a composite of two factors - male puberty and natural talent. Female physical output lacks the contribution of male puberty.
Read 9 tweets
23 Oct
@PeterTatchell Let’s go with the evidence.

Males who suppress T and do no exercise lose about 5% mass/strength in the first couple of years.

Males who suppress T and exercise mitigate loss and often make significant gains in mass/strength.

Small males are stronger than far larger females.
@PeterTatchell Among elite rugby players at all postions, the slowest males are only a little slower than the fastest females. The weakest males are stronger than the strongest females.
@PeterTatchell If rugby is a game for players of all sizes, strengths and speeds, do you think that the mixed England lineup would contain about 50% females?

No you don’t.
Nobody does.

Because while rugby might accommodate different physicalities, it appears to be limited *within sex*.
Read 12 tweets
20 Oct
People’s Republic of Liverchester? Manpool? I’m no longer fussy.
I’ve even got a Yorkshire husband willing to pledge allegiance to the dark side of it’s against ‘The South’.
Give us a couple of weeks and I reckon we’ll have Nottingham as well.
Read 4 tweets
15 Oct
‘There is no scientific evidence to support World Rugby’s position in exclusion of transwomen from contact rugby’.

Here is the evidence cited by the IOC in 2003, when they first proposed that inclusion of transwomen in female sport is fair.
Here is the evidence cited by the IOC in 2015 when they adjusted their criteria for fair inclusion.
Here is the evidence cited by England Rugby @EnglandRugby in support of fair inclusion of transwomen.
Read 8 tweets
14 Oct
That England Rugby @EnglandRugby have affirmed inclusion of transwomen in female contact rugby, despite the scientific analysis from their governing body @WorldRugby highlighting extreme safety risks, is disappointing but not surprising.

There will be more.
The calls for ‘further research’ are a smokescreen to kick tough decisions down the road.

What might happen in the mean time is now on them.
What do they expect further research to show?

That athletes become inexplicably weaker than couch potatoes, and thus hold a smaller or no advantage over females?

That is truly irrational.
Read 5 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!